Sunday, June 29, 2014

Goodwill Geek Mailbag: A Package From Erik Johnson, Illustrator!

Blogging, for me, has had the unexpected side-effect of letting me meet a large and much-varied group of individuals whom I would certainly not have met otherwise. Of that large and much-varied group is an individual named Erik Johnson, Illustrator. He has a blog... but its not a "Hey! Look what I bought over the weekend!" type of a blog, it's a "Hey! Look what I made myself! And... here, let's take a detailed look at the process I went through to make it!" sort of blog, which I find completely fascinating. Take a look at some of his artwork (you should be able to click on these to go back to Erik's blog and find some relevant info on the creation of each piece):

"Party of Two"
This piece is called "Party of Two" and the coolest thing (for me) about this piece, beyond what you see above, was watching as Erik went through the creative process on his blog, developing it from rough sketches to the final result. 

"A Gift, From My Home to Yours"
This was Erik's 2013 Christmas card, and I was lucky enough to receive one of these myself! What was interesting after the fact was reading Erik's notes on where the idea came from, but also looking at the step-by-step process of how this card was made.
"Action Figures"
And finally, let's focus on the image in the top left corner of this image, which is a promotional image for Erik to advertise his services. The piece in the corner was done specifically for Cool & Collected magazine, and it was cool to pick up that issue and see Erik's work inside. 

I am in awe of Erik's versatility and talent, and he never fails to impress when he presents his work, whether it's a finished product he's meticulously polished, convention sketches, or just practice doodles from a brainstorming session. I've also come to count Erik among my online friends. He chimes in with encouragement when he looks over my blog, and we've chatted a bit on facebook, etc. In the process, we decided to send each other some packages of goodies... and Erik's was an amazing little doozy of a package, filled with some true nostalgia. 

Recently, I've made a few Goodwill finds from my childhood, and one in particular was a book from a library I frequented as a child myself, and that I believe I actually checked out and read. Well. The exact same feeling of familiarity swept over me as I opened the box that came in the mail from Erik, and I pulled out this stack of Crestwood House Monster books. Except, obviously these books hadn't come from the Bar Harbor, ME library. Still there was a set of books IDENTICAL to these there, and when I was a lad I pored over them as if they were religious texts in a dead language needing to be translated. As you can see in the image above, these have also come from a library, and are well worn and well-read. AS THEY SHOULD BE!

The set covers lots of different monsters, and there are actually quite a few more in the series that I will be keeping an eye peeled for as I hunt in the future. The first one here is "Dracula". I loved Bela Lugosi's Dracula. It was one of the first Universal Monster movies I ever saw (I think the Creature was #1, but I was very young so it sort of doesn't count...) and Lugosi's coy and macabre grin and demeanor really floored me, even as a youngster. 

My dearest obsession as a lad was werewolves. The wolfman was probably the book I remember most from this entire series. The idea of becoming a half man half wolf was such a cool concept to me. 

I wasn't much of a King Kong fan until I was much older, which is a shame. You would think that this book would have cured me of that at a much younger age!

The Mad Scientists tome is filled with all of the usual suspects, from Fu Manchu on the cover there, to Dr. Jekyl. 

And finally, Godzilla! With all the Godzilla hype out and about right now, this book couldn't have fallen into my lap at a more opportune moment. These books are a real blast from the past, and it was incredible of Erik to pass them along to me. But wait! There's more. He also sent me these:

A 1997 Creature from the Black Lagoon toy from Burger King! BK did a great promotion for Universal back in '97 that included a bunch of monster kid's meal toys. The creature here now brings my total up to 2! 

Here he is chilling out with my BK Wolfman. They look right at home in from of those Crestwood House books... and this:

A VHS copy of one of my absolute favorite horror movie remakes from the 80's, the BLOB!!! I love this remake for the practical effects used throughout. Erik didn't know at the time that I was GONZO for this film, he just sent it because he thought I'd like it! In fact, he heard me talking on the Geek Fallout podcast about my love for the Blob remake AFTER he sent out this package! While I am not a VHS collector in any way shape or form, I treasure this thing, and have it placed reverently next to the VHS of the Superman movie that the Trash Man sent me on my 80's nostalgia shelf. Having 1 VHS tape from 2 of my best internet buddies is actually a kind of neat tribute to them, I think. The "Booga!!! Booga!!! Prepare for a scare!!" artwork is his own piece, and it was included in the VHS box as an extra spooky treat! Can you tell Erik knows I like Halloween and horror?

And speaking of Geek Fallout, Erik has also recently become a contributor to the Geek Fallout podcast, joining in on the Hanna Barbera episode (Ep. #81). I haven't gotten to actually talk to him on the podcast personally yet... but as long as he continues to contribute, our paths will cross eventually.

I want to thank Erik wholeheartedly for this awesome box of goodies. I hope he had as much fun putting this stuff together for me as I did putting together a package for him! He's a great artist and an even better person to talk to, bounce ideas off, and pal around with online. Thanks Erik!

Well. That's all I got for tonight kiddos! I'll be back really soon with ALL KINDS of awesome Goodwill Goodies (I have a queue of something like 11 posts saved in draft form, full of photos just waiting for me to write about them, so keep your eyes peeled!) so until then, Happy Hunting!   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Son and the AT-AT.

So... remember how I discovered the other day that there was a vintage Star Wars AT-AT toy living in the woods out back of our house? Well... I posted this image on Instagram last night:

Because... YOU GUYS I GOT HIM TO COME INSIIIIIDE!!! And well... it didn't take long for my 5 year-old to discover him the next morning. 

Wasn't sure I wanted my son kissing the AT-AT, as he's pretty filthy... but I didn't freak out and stop him. It was funny seeing the both of them so immediately start playing. The AT-AT took to my son immediately, and vice versa.

The AT-AT kept trying to lick him. And since my son is INSANELY ticklish... this went over about as well as you'd think:

They played like this for almost an hour.

Rompin' and wrestlin'. 

I have no idea what is even happening here. But I know they were having a TON of fun. 

All I could hear was insane giggling and little metallic snuffling noises. 

The AT-AT just seemed genuinely bewildered as to where my son had disappeared off to. 

Scaled that kid like he was a mountain. 

And then, as fast as it had begun, they were asleep. 

They were seriously tuckered out. 

So... I let them sleep.

I've got a lot to think about. If we're going to keep this thing around, we're going to have to put some serious work in, let me tell you. First of all, as I mentioned, he's filthy. He stinks. My son didn't seem to mind, but he's going to need a serious bath for any long-term conditions. Probably need a visit to the vet... or the mechanic maybe.

I also need to find some way to tell my wife about it... Ahhh... heh.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Goodwill Grab-Bags (and one Mecha)

I was actually tempted to draw this post out into a couple of posts, seeing the volume of stuff herein. But then I got thinking: I have items I found in two different grab-bags on the same day that sort of go together, and it would bug me if I didn't connect them together in a post. So you get a big toy post today including THREE count-them THREE grab-bags, and one loose toy. Congratulations!

Before I dig into the grab-bags I want to feature this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mecha that I found for 1.99. It's missing a few pieces, but is complete enough for this guy right here. This is from 2005, and is from the Turtles' second animated series toy-line. I'm not a HUGE collector of this line, but I have a few pieces here and there, and there was just absolutely no way I was walking away WITHOUT a giant TMNT-themed battlesuit. So here we are. This is where my life choices have led me. 

Here are the contents of the first grab-bag, 4 action figures for .99 cents. Not a bad deal considering I would have paid that much just for this guy:

Toy Biz Iceman! This one is actually from 1992, which would have been after the point I would still have been trying to collect the X-Men line. I basically got a bunch of the 1991 releases and then stopped. But this one's pretty snazzy. I'm a sucker for a well done translucent action figure, and this is a well done Iceman for sure. 

I definitely wasn't collecting action figures at all in 1994, when this Toybiz Silver Samurai was released, so I missed the boat. This one is unfortunately missing both his helmet and his sword. His legs are also a solid sculpt with the lower half of his body, making them non poseable and stiff... although seemingly random... his knees bend. Weird. So he can totally kick ass in a Limbo contest. Look out N'Astirh! (Only a select handful of you will get that joke without Google's help... Kudos to you... you know who you are.)

This next piece is interesting because I was completely unaware of the ExoSquad line in 1993. This is not the first ExoSquad toy I've found at Goodwill, but it is the only one currently in my collection. Apparently this suit belonged to a character named Typhonus. That's all I know. It's pretty rad looking though, and bringing home two mechanized battlesuits in one day is never a bad thing I guess. 

Finally I got this "Scavage" Predator action figure from the 1993 Kenner line. He has no accessories, but he's still pretty badass. I'm not a huge Predator action figures fan, so I already have a destination in mind for this guy. 

The second grab-bag was a collection of old junk. But the fact that this was old junk was significant enough to me that I brought it home. I don't remember exactly, but I think I actually paid 1.99 for this bag. But in the end, I felt it was definitely worth it. 

Here are some of the more exciting items in the bag. The kayak is a pack-in Adventure People accessory from the Daredevil Sport Van set. You can see some TMNT accessories here as well (Foot Soldier weapons for that Foot Soldier I don't have... -sob-), and these guys:

A couple of 80's-era Transformers! Even though I was never a big Transformer collector, I'm always happy to find these. The older the Transformers the better. What we have here is a Decepticon Quake figure from 1988, missing his two smaller "Targetmaster" robots, and Autobot Cosmos, the UFO Transformer.  

I also found Iceman's ice slide! So I sort of suspected that the contents of both of these grab-bags may have been from the same donor... or who knows... I have another theory at the end of the post. Either way, it pleased me to no end to see this guy and his ride reunited. 

Now... to you these may just be some random plastic pieces. You may even recognise them as G.I. Joe parts... but what you might not realize is that these are pieces to the old Mobile Command Center, which for me is an almost completely unattainable holy grail. I had the MCC as a kid, I remember getting it on Christmas morning in fact, and from that day forward, it served as the headquarters for all of my good guy characters, regardless of what franchise they were from. That thing was pure playset porn. Don't believe me? Go check it out for yourself over at!!!

Some other random fun pieces here as well, the yellow things with the blue squares on them went to a StarCom playset, which was a bunch of mini-figure spacemen with magnets in their feet. The green tail belongs to a Golobulus figure if I am not mistaken, and the roundish black thing with the thing sticking out of the bottom is some sort of air-pump for a launching toy of some sort, I just can't remember what. The ring in the middle is from a Matchbox Ring Raiders set (mini jets like Micro Machines). The rest I don't really remember at all. 

Here's one more pile of junk out of that same grab-bag, none of which do I recognize. I think there might be a couple more Mobile Command pieces mixed in there, like the round grate thing and the tan gun turret, but I don't remember off the top of my head. Nice cape though. 

Finally, there was one last bag that had some Construx pieces in it, and a Capsela set of building toys that could be used to build motorized vehicles or "robots".  Weird thing is... I'm pretty sure I know where most of these toys came from. This last bag was the clincher. It COULD be a complete coincidence... but I knew a kid who owned this Capsela set, the Construx and StarCom sets, and had a TON of G.I. Joes when I lived in Bar Harbor ME. I wouldn't be willing to wager a TON of money on it, but I'd bet a fiver at least that his mother probably cleaned out a bunch of his old stuff and donated it. It's all just WAAAY too familiar to be a coincidence. I don't know how popular the Capsela sets were back in the day, but I think they were fairly expensive, and I didn't know a lot of kids who had them. I just... I remember these toys. It's kind of surreal. I don't think the 90's toys were probably his, like the X-Men toys or the TMNT mecha... but I think I actually now own some of another kids toys that I knew back in the day. That is a weird feeling. Why is that weirder than if it was a complete stranger? Dunno. Just is. 

Anway! That's it for tonight kiddos! I'll be back with more Geeky Goodwill Goodies in no time! So until then... Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

STOP EVERYTHING!!! I need to tell you guys about something that happened...

Slightly off topic for me on this blog, I want to begin a story of something that happened to me this weekend. Mainly, our weekend was focused on the celebration of Father's Day... but something extraordinary happened while I was home from work on Monday... Let me tell you about it. (And don't ask me any stupid questions about how I got pictures of all this... just roll with it, right?)

There's been something moving around in the woods for weeks now out back of our house. I assumed it was a raccoon or a porcupine or the smoke monster from LOST. But I was mistaken... If you look very carefully at the picture above you can see the little fella climbing on the rock in the middle of the picture. 

Yes, that's right folks, there's a vintage Star Wars toy AT-AT walker in the woods behind our house. Just walking around like he owns the place. King of the forest.

He's got spunk, I'll give him that.

He's a nosy little bugger, that's for sure.

Sometimes that doesn't go so well for him. 

I guess this past Monday he finally decided to check out what that big white shape on the edge of the woods was. 

It was probably pretty intimidating at first. 

But like I said, nosy little bugger. 

Decided to mark his territory. 

Eventually made his way back around to the front of the house. 

Where he found our returnables barrel. 

It was at this point that I realized something was around. And from the chew-marks on those aluminum cans, I suspected I knew what it was. 

I knew just what to put out. 

I think I'm gaining his trust. More on this as events unfold. 

(And yes, I know something similar was done in a youtube video. I didn't know it until I got all these photographs though... so just let me have my fun.)
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